Members of the Fox Cities Triathlon Club have a mantra developed from a comment uttered by one member several years ago. "There are no finish lines, only new beginnings." As triathletes, we all know there is nearly always a "next" race. Even the final race of a season is simply the beginning of the off-season.
This is the photo from the finish line of my first marathon in 2004. If I look beat, it's because this race took a lot out of me. In addition to being my first attempt at 26.2 miles, I had struggled with hamstring issues after suffering a minor pull about two weeks prior to the race. My "taper" consisted of 10 days with no running, plus a trip to New York the final days before the event.
At some point in my marathon training, I started blogging about politics and running. One of the many friends I made through my original blog was a cancer survivor battling a second bout. Her medical challenges prevented her from participating in the marathon for which she was training, so I ran the 2005 Chicago Marathon in her honor.
Prior to even completing the Chicago Marathon in 2005, a group of eighth graders challenged me to participate in a triathlon. They felt that "one more marathon" wasn't really a challenge, while a triathlon would be something new. I hit the pool, put my mountain bike through the paces, and signed up for the Trinity Triathlon, a local sprint race.
After completing my first triathlon in June of 2006, I signed up for two others in short order. The first was a race with a co-worker, and the second was the Oshkosh Area Triathlon Olympic distance race. The Oshkosh race was basically a challenge to myself. The main goal? Complete the entire swim without breaking freestyle form. In my first two races, I struggled through the swim, completely freaking out in the first. The picture shows that I survived what was my longest race at that point.
In September of 2006 I participated in my fourth marathon and second Fox Cities Marathon. I had lost a great deal of weight, learned a lot about running, and become considerably more fit than when I ran my first marathon in 2004. I returned to the Fox Cities Marathon. My goal was to cut nearly 45 minutes from my PR and go under four hours.
Shortly after the 2006 Fox Cities Marathon, a chain of events resulted in my racing the 2007 Spirit of Racine half-Ironman race, my second 70.3 distance race. This is another event from which I didn't have a good finish line picture, but Iron Wil's husband James treated me like a pro getting some awesome action shots, like this one of me leaving the water.
In September of 2007, I crossed the finish line at Ironman Louisville. It is one of the proudest (and most tired) "new beginnings" in my endurance race career. While many consider an Ironman finish the culmination of a long journey, I viewed it as just one more step in an on-going mission.
In 2008, my focus shifted from ultra distance triathlons to ultramarathons. After completing marathon number six and half-Ironman number three, I began training for The Fall 50 ultramarathon in October. Along the way, I completed the Fox Cities Marathon for the third time. This time, I ran the half-marathon course from the finish to the start prior to the beginning of the race. This is the finish line of that race, and I think I look alright for having just completed 40 miles.
Just who is this Iron Pol?
A former out of shape sailor, who became a marathoner, then a triathlete, Ironman, and ultramarathoner. Now, life has pushed me into short track speed skating. More important than the titles is the lifestyle, and sharing it with others.